Our Opinon: Inauguration bedecked with tradition

Inaugurations traditionally are more style than substance.

Monday’s event was no exception. Taking their oaths of office on a platform outside the Capitol were five statewide elected officials, including Gov. Jay Nixon.

Once again, warmer temperatures were absent from inaugural proceedings. Although the skies were clear and winds benign, mid-day temperatures hovered around 20 degrees.

As if in deference to the sub-freezing conditions, the governor’s inaugural address was brief.

He acknowledged partisan differences, which this year contrast his Democratic administration with Republican super-majorities in both the House and Senate. A super-majority occurs when the majority party has enough members to override a veto if no partisan breaks ranks.

Nixon made another distinction, pointing out perceived partisanship today is no match for Civil War-era politics when “Missouri was bitterly divided in the struggle for our nation’s survival — and its soul.”

Specifically, the governor said: “For a time, Missouri had two state governments, two state capitals and two governors.”

The governor drew those stark divisions as a foundation to urge unity. “We will put our shared principles ahead of our small differences,” he said, “and work together for the common good.”

Nixon characterized disagreement and debate as “a vivid reminder that democracy is a chorus of many voices.”

The tone and substance of the governor’s address was neither unexpected nor groundbreaking.

In many respects, his call to work together echoed the sentiments voiced by Republican House and Senate leaders when the session began Wednesday.

The first week of a legislative session is largely ceremonial. Members of both parties attend receptions together, dine together and share the dance floor at the Inaugural Ball.

Whether talk of working together can be translated into action will become more apparent when policy and budget matters take center stage.

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